Earth from Space: Rügen on the rocks

24 February 2012

The icy waters of the Baltic Sea surrounding Germany’s largest island, Rügen, are pictured in this image from Japan’s ALOS observation satellite.

Connected to mainland Germany at the city of Stralsund, Rügen has lush landscapes and over 570 km of coastline.

The knob in the upper-central portion of the image is home to the Jasmund National Park and its magnificent white chalk cliffs. Heavy rain and storms frequently erode the soft rock, which dissolves into the sea and turns the waters white.

Sea ice blankets the surrounding brackish waters, hugging the island’s shores with its many peninsulas. The white lines that cut through larger ice-covered bodies of water are the remnants of ice-breaking boats and ships.

Icebreakers use their momentum to drive the front end of the ship up on top of the ice, which then breaks under the weight. These ships are common along shipping routes in northern waters.

Earth-observing satellites can be used for measuring ice cover on and around these routes. Last August satellites showed that a shortcut for shipping between Europe and Asia, the Northwest Passage, opened up during the seasonal melt.

The Advanced Land Observation Satellite captured this image on 24 February 2011 with its AVNIR-2 Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer.

ALOS was supported as a Third Party Mission, which means that ESA used its multi-mission ground systems to acquire, process, distribute and archive data from the satellite to its user community.

In April 2011 the satellite abruptly lost power while mapping Japan’s tsunami-hit coastline.

The Image of the Week is featured on ESA Web-TV, broadcast online every Friday at 10:00 CET.

Copyright 2000 - 2014 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.